BACKGROUND. It has been shown that social integration and the availability of social support influence quality of life. However, little is known about the relation between social support and mental and physical health in patients with colorectal cancer. In the current study, the authors examined the effects of social network size, as well as emotional and instrumental support, on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with colorectal cancer. METHODS. Six hundred thirty-six veterans with colorectal cancer were asked to complete a telephone interview, which included a measure of social support (the Berkman-Syme Index) and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 12-Item Survey. Mean physical composite scale (PCS) and mental composite scale (MCS) scores were compared across groups. RESULTS. No difference in mean PCS or MCS scores was found between patients who had larger social networks and patients who had smaller social networks. The availability of emotional and instrumental support was associated with higher MCS scores, whereas the availability of instrumental support was associated with lower PCS scores. CONCLUSIONS. Irrespective of network size, the availability of emotional support and instrumental support had an impact on HRQOL in patients with colorectal cancer. More emphasis needs to be placed on understanding how various types of social support, individually and collectively, influence physical and mental health in patients with colorectal cancer.
- Colorectal cancer
- Medical Outcomes Study Short Form
- Quality of life
- Social support